North American First People's Day 2024
The Walk - October 6, 2024

Background on Our Walks

The Portage Path Collaborative (PPC) acknowledges that these events take place on lands that have been home to many diverse nations, including the Ohio Seneca and Cayuga, Lenni Lenape (Delaware), Miami, Shawnee, Wyandot (Wendat), Ottawa (Odawa) and Ojibwe Nations. These lands were ceded in the 1805 Treaty of Fort Industry and the forced removal of tribes through the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The PPC pays respect to the land and lives of Indigenous Nations past and present, and is committed to a process of continual learning, reflection, and reconciliation. [More information on land acknowledgments and ways to be in solidarity with Native nations beyond land acknowledgments can be found at: https://nativegov.org/news/a-guide-to-indigenous-land-acknowledgment/].

Akron City Council in 2018 declared the first Monday in October as “North American First People’s Day,” a day to honor Indigenous history, life, and culture. It was extended to the entire county in April 2019 by the Summit County Council. The initiative was prompted by students at The Lippman School of Akron, which has a longstanding exchange relationship with the Northern Cheyenne Nation of Montana.

On the first Monday in October the PPC has organized a “Teach-in” with Akron students, where Indigenous individuals have gone into school classrooms to teach students about various topics. This year, the teach-in will take place at the Institute for Human Science & Culture, where students will interact with Indigenous artists, elders, and educators within the Oak Native American gallery, and other spaces within the IHSC.

Students from Lippman, Portage Path CLC and the Cheyenne Nation joined together in 2016 to create a web- based mobile app that provides extensive information about the Indian trail, including its history and the natural world that it traverses. The app can be accessed at www.walkportagepath.com.

The Portage Path Collaborative includes The Summit County Historical Society, The Lippman School, Summit Metro Parks, Akron Public Schools, the Akron-Summit County Public Library, Akron Art Museum, and the Institute for Human Science & Culture at The University of Akron (located inside the Cummings Center). Two individuals, La Donna Blue Eye, a member of the Choctaw Nation and Akron artist Chuck Ayers are also members of the group.

A brochure outlining the historic trail and the history of Native peoples who traveled the Portage Path has been published and is free and available at the Historical Society, Metro Parks’ F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm, and the Institute for Human Science & Culture (located inside the Cummings Center).

The sculpture of a Native American portaging a canoe was designed and sculpted by Peter B. Jones who resides and works on the Alleghany Indian Reservation near Salamanca, New York. He graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe in 1965 and has been honored with national awards recognizing his lifetime commitment to perpetuating Haudenosaunee traditions and to restore and pass on ancestral knowledge and traditions, connecting Native peoples to their greatest assets.

NAFPD Featured Contemporary Artist Program held annually since 2021 at the Institute for Human Science & Culture Lynn R. Metzger Galleries showcases the art of a local and regional Indigenous artist. Contact Dr. Jodi Kearns to be considered as the Featured Artist in upcoming years for this program, jkearns@uakron.edu

Schedule of This Year's Events

Updates Coming Soon

FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 29
3:00pm – 4:00pm: Oak Native American Ethnographic Collection Tour. Free.

Led by Institute for Human Science and Culture curator; learn about the Oak Native American Ethnographic Collection while visiting the Oak gallery and sneak a peek of collection items not on display. At the Institute for Human Science & Culture at The University of Akron (Inside Cummings Center: 73 S. College St., Akron, Ohio, 44325). Free but limited spaces; RSVP information will be available at uakron.edu/chp/whats-on/

4:00pm – 7:00pm: Exhibitions. Free.
O-bit-u-ary exhibition opening reception for featured contemporary Native American artist, Peter B. Jones (Onondaga Nation)—a renowned potter and sculptor who resides on the Allegany Territory of the Seneca Nation of Indians.  This exhibition of new works “is something I have wanted to do for years. Missing and murdered native women deals with something that is currently affecting our women in the United States and Canada. To date 5800 native women have been found murdered or missing from our communities. Nobody has been found to be responsible for this. I wanted to show the horrific aspects of this occurrence and to bring it to the forefront of the public’s awareness.” The exhibition runs through July 2024.

Oak Native American Gallery.  Exhibition of Native American ethnographic materials exploring the connection between people and land.

Both located at the Institute for Human Science & Culture at The University of Akron (Inside Cummings Center: 73 S. College St., Akron, Ohio, 44325). Standard gallery hours: Tue, Thu, Fri, Sat [11:00am – 4:00pm] + Wed [1:00pm – 8:00pm]. Closed Mon + Sun + holidays. For more information visit uakron.edu/chp/institute/

7:00pm – 9:00pm: “Clans”  Visit website for tickets.
Composed and conducted by Jarod Impichch aachaaha’ Tate, drawing on legends from the composer’s Chickasaw heritage. Narrated by Dr. LaDonna Blue Eye (Choctaw Nation). E.J.Thomas Performing Arts Hall, University of Akron (198 Hill Street, Ohio 44325). www.akronsymphony.org. Concerts are preceded by a free Preview from the Podium talk by Music Director Christopher Wilkins. 

SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 30
11:00am – 4:00pm: Exhibitions. Free.

O-bit-u-ary by Peter B. Jones, ceramic artist (Onondaga) and Oak Native American Gallery. See above for more information.

SUNDAY OCTOBER 1
10:00am–12:00pm: History of the Portage Path and Artist’s Talk. Free.

Summit Metro Parks archaeologist-led walk from Big Bend to the northernmost point of the Portage Path.  Learn about the history of this vital link between North American waterways as we walk, then enjoy a talk at the northern terminus by artist Peter B. Jones (Onondaga), creator of the portaging American Indian statues located at both the northern and southern termini of the Portage Path. Begins at the Big Bend parking area (Sand Run Metro Park, 1337 Merriman Rd., Akron).

1:30pm: Walk the Portage Path. Free.
1-mile walk of the Portage Path led by the Northern Cheyenne, who will be drumming and dressed in regalia. The path was marked by the Summit County Historical Society in 1999, when for the first time, monumental sculptures at each terminus were connected by fifty markers in the shape of Indian broad blades over the 8-mile trail. The 2023 walk starts at Portage Path CLC (55 S. Portage Path) and ends at Summit Co. Historical Society’s John Brown House (514 Diagonal Road, Akron).

2:00pm: Native American Cultural Presentation. Free
Drumming and dancing by Northern Cheyenne on the lawn, plus exhibition inside John Brown House: Surveying our Past: A Modern Marking of One of the Nation’s Oldest Paths— learn more about the legwork to accurately identify the historic Portage Path and Peter Jones’ artwork designating it. at Summit Co. Historical Society’s John Brown House lawn (514 Diagonal Road, Akron).

The City of Akron will provide free shuttle from the John Brown House to Highland Square for those walking the trail following the walk and the program.

2:30 pm: Lakota Nation vs. United States”. Visit website for tickets.
Chronicle about the Lakota Indians’ century-long quest to reclaim the Black Hills—sacred land that was stolen in violation of treaty agreements. A searing, timely portrait of resistance, the film explores the ways America has ignored its debt to indigenous communities and ponders what might be done today to repair the wrongs of the past. The Nightlight (30 N. High Street, Akron 44308). www.nightlightcinema.com

MONDAY OCTOBER 2
8:30am – 3:00pm: Teach-In.  By invitation only.

Educational activities for local school children with appearances by Indigenous nation representatives; in coordination with The Lippman School and Akron Public Schools. Institute for Human Science & Culture at The University of Akron.

11:00am – 5:00pm: Explore the Akron Art Museum. Free
Free admission to the galleries, explore native plant life in the garden, and create nature mandalas and photo weavings inspired by Native Artists from the collection. 1 S. High Street, Akron.Click HERE for more information.

1:00 – 2:00: NAFPD Garden Tour – Akron Art Museum
Join us on NAFPD for a tour of the Bud and Susan Rogers Garden focusing on the native plant life grown there. The tour will be lead by naturalist Karen Koch from Summit Metroparks. FREE. RSVP required – CLICK HERE – space is limited

6:30pm – 8:00pm: Akron-Summit County Public Library Native American Speaker Series. Free.
Panel of Northern Cheyenne experts address keeping an endangered language alive, generational trauma, and bringing Indigenous content into school systems. Downtown branch (60 S. High St., Akron). More information is coming soon at services.akronlibrary.org/events.

8:00pm: Film “Lakota Nation vs. United States”. Visit website for tickets.
Chronicle about the Lakota Indians’ century-long quest to reclaim the Black Hills—sacred land that was stolen in violation of treaty agreements. The Nightlight (30 N. High Street, Akron 44308). www.nightlightcinema.com

THURSDAY OCTOBER 5
3:30pm – 5:00pm: Public Humanities Workshop for UA students. Limited space.

Professor of American History and Documentary Filmmaker Malinda Maynor Lowery, Ph.D. For more information contact Dr. Jodi Kearns jkearns@uakron.edu.

6:00PM – 7:30pm: IHSC Fall Lecture Beyond Myths and Truths: Finding Native American Women in History. Free.
Lecture and film screening by Malinda Maynor Lowery, Ph.D. (Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina), a historian, documentary film producer, and Cahoon Family Professor of American History at Emory University. Institute for Human Science & Culture at The University of Akron (Inside Cummings Center: 73 S. College St., Akron, Ohio 44325). Find RSVP info at uakron.edu/chp/whats-on/beyond-myths-and-truths

updated 6/24/24

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